Though the art business was remarkably slow in venturing onto the Internet, art-buying sites have proliferated in the past few years, with Paddle8, Art.sy, Artspace, the VIP Art Fair and others competing in an untested playing field. Now another one has joined that battle, the Tappan Collective, which offers to connect aspiring collectors with a selection of emerging young artists at low prices in an online-shopping format.
Tappan Collective’s founders, Jordan Klein and Chelsea Neman, were born in Los Angeles and met at the University of Michigan (the site takes its name from Tappan Street, which runs by the art school, where the two met). As 24-year-old art and art history majors, Ms. Klein and Ms. Neman are familiar with the lack of opportunities for most young artists and collectors. Their company aims to target what Ms. Klein described as “the gap in the art market for high art at low prices” by making young talent available online.
“We are trying to build a new way to find and discover art, to create a young space that seems fun, where you can be educated about art and discover young talent,” Ms. Klein said.
They’re mostly showing their friends and friends of friends, as dealers tend to do. That’s in sharp contrast to some of their online colleagues like Art.sy and the VIP Art Fair, which aim to facilitate sales from galleries across the international art world. So far they sell work by 21 artists, who live in New York, Paris, Chicago and London.
Tappan Collective’s prices are more in line with extremely young Lower East Side galleries than Chelsea standbys, and it often presents limited-edition prints rather than unique works. “We don’t see ourselves as competing with higher-priced galleries or websites.” Ms. Klein told The Observer.
An unframed 16-by-24-inch print by Isaac Brest, founder of the New York–based Still House group is listed for a relatively affordable $200. The 30-by-45-inch version (in an edition of 20 rather than 50) goes for $400 more. In contrast, at the Still House show at art adviser Mark Fletcher’s new gallery in Washington Square Park, prices for unique works range well above Tappan’s modest $1,000 cap. (The gallery declined to release exact prices.)
But the project is about more than simple commerce, Ms. Klein emphasized, and the site comes along with a hefty editorial component. “We’re really focused on showing behind-the-scenes images of the art-making process,” Ms. Klein referring to the company’s blog, which offers artist interviews and studio visits with artists they represent. Through that blog, Tappan offers potential customers an enticing glimpse at the world from which the work comes.
Whether these online businesses endure remains an open question. For now, though, Ms. Klein said, “Business is booming. I think we’re doing really well.”